Memo To: Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Force or Diplomacy in Iraq
I hope you saw your friend Jack Kemp on CNN's "Evans&Novak" show over the weekend. Several who did see the show told me afterward that they now understand how I can say he will be the next President. On a host of issues, especially on Iraq, Jack took positions independent of the conventional wisdom of the Republican Party. As legislative leader in the Senate, you have very little wiggle room to move outside of the Senate's center of gravity, but I hope you can appreciate the effort Jack is making to prevent the GOP from congealing into a hot-blooded war party. In 1995, you know as well as anyone that the party lost control of itself, possessed of ideological demons in twice closing down the government and threatening a default of the national debt if it didn't get its way. Throughout that mob scene, Kemp warned Newt again and again of the political dangers of runaway passions. There is much more at stake now, Trent. The mob scene is howling for blood in Iraq, and there will be plenty of it if you do not find a way to deflect the party hawks from pushing the President into it. Instead of compensating for the President's weakness as a result of the latest sex scandal, the Republicans are exploiting that weakness by demanding nothing less than the removal of Saddam Hussein.
On the program, Jack observed that the debate thus far has been between bombs and bigger bombs. He could have said it has now moved on to bigger bombs or invasion. When UN Ambassador Bill Richardson says the diplomatic avenues have been exhausted, he means that Baghdad has refused to give in to the Clinton administration's demand for Unconditional Surrender. By which he means the government of Iraq must permit the United Nations inspectors to roam the country forever, with no assurance that the sanctions which have been killing Iraqi civilians for seven years will ever be lifted. If diplomacy means anything, Trent, it means negotiation and compromise. The administration has not permitted any contact with the Iraqi government. Richardson is not ever permitted to say hello to his counterpart, Nizar Hamdoon, should they bump into each other accidentally at the United Nations. The only diplomatic initiatives that make any sense are those of UN General Secretary Kofi Annan and the one Jack proposed on January 7 -- and which we have been talking to you about ever since. After seven years of complying with UN demands, only to have the goalposts moved again and again, Saddam Hussein can do nothing less than negotiate the terms of compliance -- or his people will continue to suffer indefinitely.
Realistically, Jack's proposal is the only one that makes political sense, in that Kofi Annan's will not get the approval of the White House unless the President knows he will not be attacked by Republicans for accepting it. You know it is impossible for the Republican Congress to develop a diplomatic alternative to the administration. If you don't encourage interest in Jack's concept of limited snap inspections throughout Iraq, against the guarantee of the sanctions being lifted, you will be permitting the President to wag the dog. I encourage you to read the transcript of the "Evans&Novak" show and be prepared to say a kind word about the Kemp initiative.
Also, I think you may have read my client letter of February 10, comparing Vietnam and Iraq. Jack made the comparison on the weekend program, pointing out that we lost the lives of 50,000 Americans after President Kennedy decided to get rid of South Vietnam's President Diem. If you consider the level of terrorism that could result from a U.S. bombing campaign, which is what Boris Yeltsin has in mind, you can see that 50,000 would be a small price to pay. Iraq could be President Clinton's international Waco, in which we discover again the unintended consequences of the ill-considered use of force.